‘Dark Phoenix’ Has a Pandering Girl Power Moment That Diminishes Its Most Progressive Quality

IndieWire | 6/6/2019 | Staff
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“Avengers: Infinity War” and “Dark Phoenix” may not have a lot in common, but they do share one annoying proclivity: shoehorning in off-kilter moments meant to bolster the genre’s lackluster treatment of its female characters, with pandering shots and cheap lines that don’t have much to do with what’s actually happening on screen.

The Russo Brothers did it with “Avengers: Endgame,” in a head-scratching sequence that broke away from a key battle to show off the franchise’s many female heroes — some of whom only don’t even have any lines in the film — as they line up, charge forth, and look vaguely powerful while they do it.

Superhero - Franchise - Action - Simon - Kinberg

Now, another superhero franchise is getting in on the action, as Simon Kinberg’s “Dark Phoenix” includes its own hammy jab about renaming the mutant team the “X-Women,” one that Fox has apparently been pleased with enough to release as its own standalone clip before the film even hits theaters.

The clip pulls from a sequence that appears relatively early in the film, after the X-Men (X-People? X-Humans? X-Mutants?) have taken on a challenging, space-bound mission in which all of them — men and women — have worked toward a positive outcome. Still, as the mission reaches a critical moment, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) embarks on a daring task in hopes of salvaging both her team and the people they’ve been sent to save. It works, but she’s also hit with a powerful amount of energy that ultimately turns her into Dark Phoenix.

Jean - Lot - Mission - Rest - Team

Jean has undoubtedly contributed a lot to the mission, but so has the rest of the team — and if there is one thing that X-Men movies have been able to consistently nail, it’s the importance of a team effort — but the effects of that weird energy have not emerged. And yet the...
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